MIDP alumnae Nan Sandi and Nang Raw Zahkung have been nominated for the 2016 N-Peace Awards, given annually to leaders and peacebuilders creating positive change at the grassroots and national levels in Asia.
Sandi and Zahkung were among 32 women to be nominated in the Untold Stories category, which recognizes the efforts of women who have demonstrated skills in conflict resolution, prevention and peacebuilding in their communities.
Established in 2010 at a meeting held by the United Nations Development Programme’s Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, N-Peace is a multi-country network of peace advocates in Asia seeking to advance women, security and peacebuilding. Today the network connects more than 2,000 practitioners in Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
Sandi, who was born in the Shan state of Myanmar where civil war has been going on for almost six decades, has been working for the past 10 years to promote basic education and primary healthcare for marginalized groups – including Shan refugees – in Myanmar. She worked for Shan Education Committee (SEC) as an education program coordinator, where she provided primary education for 1,250 displaced children at Thai-Myanmar border.
When she joined Shan State Development Foundation (SSDF) as a health program coordinator, she increased access to primary healthcare services for over 6,000 Shan refugees and also managed a prosthetic workshop for hundreds of landmine survivors.
Nang Raw Zahkung
Growing up as a member of the Kachin minority during Myanmar’s civil war, the world’s longest-running civil war, Zahkung had a lifelong desire to promote peace. Following her education at Duke, in 2013 she agreed to assist the ethnic armed organizations negotiating for peace with the Myanmar government.
As assistant director of policy and strategy for the Shalom Foundation, she supports peace processes around the country by bringing expertise to negotiations and creating platforms for dialogue. She also organizes public consultations in remote villages.
Zahkung and her colleague, Ja Nan Lahtaw, director of Shalom Foundation and one of last year’s N-Peace Award winners, currently serve as advisors to the ethnic armed groups who signed a historic draft ceasefire deal with the government of Myanmar in April 2015.
The last day to vote for the N-Peace Award winners is Sept. 30.